Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 52
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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TAKING THE LEAD: Princeton High girls’ basketball star Molly Barber takes the ball up the court in action last season. The junior point guard poured in a career-high 27 points last week as PHS topped Nottingham 67-57 to improve to 2-0. The Little Tigers will be competing in a holiday tournament at Hopewell Valley High on December 29 and 30.

With Barber Providing Scoring, Leadership, PHS Girls’ Basketball Produces 2-0 Start

Bill Alden

Molly Barber saw her herself as a facilitator last winter as she joined the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

Focusing on setting up senior teammates like Keisha Brown and Casey Moran, point guard Barber helped PHS win six of its last 10 games as it rebounded from a 1-11 start.

This winter, junior Barber knows that her Little Tiger teammates are depending on her to provide more offensive production.

“Last year, I was more of a passer,” said Barber, who transferred to PHS after playing her freshman year at the Hun School.

“This year three seniors graduated and they were some of our top scorers. Everyone is saying ‘you need to shoot more, you need to shoot more’ so I worked on that a lot this summer; getting open for the shot and driving.”

Barber’s work on her offensive game paid major dividends last week as she scored a career-high 27 points to help PHS top Nottingham, 67-57 to improve to 2-0.

In reflecting on her big game, Barber acknowledged that she is a different player after getting her feet wet last winter.

“That was my first real varsity season; I feel more comfortable now,” said Barber, who went 15-of-15 from the free throw line in the victory over the Northstars.

“I played in the Trenton summer league this year so I have been playing against all these girls in the CVC. I feel like I belong.”

Although Barber led the way in the win over Nottingham, there were other girls who contributed offensively as three Little Tigers ended up in double figures on the evening.

Junior Tara Thomas scored 11 points in the first half to help PHS jump out to a 30-22 lead at the intermission. Junior Julie Barry ended up with 13 points in the game while senior Julia Maltby chipped in 10 points.

The team’s balance has made things easier for Barber in her role as point guard.

“We are finishing all of our shots and that is really helping,” asserted Barber, who scored 14 points in PHS’s 41-27 season-opening day win over Lawrence High on December 18.

“We can drive in and pass it out; it is so much easier instead of just trying to get it inside. They are all hitting their shots. They are working on it everyday in practice and they are really doing awesome.”

PHS head coach Steffanie Shoop believes her players are starting to hit on all cylinders.

“They are really starting to play as a team; we are carrying the momentum that we had from the end of last season,” said Shoop.

“When one girl misses a shot another girl is going to be there to box out for her. They are working collectively; they are working as a unit.”

Shoop is pleased with the work she is getting from Barber. “I think last year Molly was trying to play a role,” said Shoop. “This year, Molly has felt confident enough to step up and take the lead.”

In Shoop’s view, her other players are embracing their roles. “Tara [Thomas] is becoming a real team leader; she is getting really tough,” said Shoop.

“Julia Maltby is a great leader. Talya [Nakash] was everywhere on the floor tonight. If there was a loose ball, she was going to get it. Julie Barry hit some shots; if she gets confidence, you better look out. They all bring their own individual flair to the game and make everybody else better.”

With PHS next in action when it competes in a holiday tournament at Hopewell Valley High on December 29 and 30, Shoop believes the 2-0 start is a harbinger of better things to come.

“It really reflects how hard they have worked and how much they care and I am just really proud of them,” said Shoop, who credited assistant coaches Val Rodriguez and Patty Barber with helping the team come together.

“Everybody is cutting their holiday short to come back for a holiday tournament. We haven’t had that in a few years and everyone is going to just keep working. They are special girls.”

Barber, for her part, thinks that PHS can do some special things this winter.

“Last year, we won our opener and went downhill from there; this year we are definitely going uphill a lot more,” said Barber.

“People are going to have to come in and play us seriously; we are not a joke at all. We are not an easy team to beat at all; it is going to be tough playing us. I think we are going to have a good season.”

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